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Sulu Scalia International Headquarters Come Visit us for LUNCH! In addition to our organic coffee, pizzas, empanadas, pastries and pies, we now prepare made to order sandwiches, salads, and even black bean gazpacho. 1111 3601 S. Congress oft E. Alpine Penn Field under the water tower check our site for mont`lig ardor Spare Time in Texas Spare Time in Texas Recreation and History in the Lone Star State BY DAVID G. MCCOM8 The complete story of the oldest business institution in Texas is at last captured in a colorful, comprehensive history sweeping across five generations of a ‘family of savvy media moguls. JACK A.ND DORIS &MOTHERS SERIES IN TEXAS HISTORY, LIFE, AND CULTURE 112 Wzre , photos $24.95 paper $60.00 cloth seooks on ine. , ,, :!.!.,!!!!..1!!!!!, Duchess of Palms is an extraordinary work of women’s history, offering a candid consideration of the wifely role in politics during a pre women’s movement era when “wife” was the best job in town for a woman with political ambitions. Eckhardt seems to have developed the indifference toward good looks of a woman who’s grown bored with being a beauty. When I remarked on a particularly lovely bust, for instance, set on a low shelf near the kitchen, she said, “Yeah, I loved that one. But then the nose snapped off during a move. So I called the artist to see if he could stick on a new nose. But he said there wasn’t any way to do it without it looking like the old nose snapped off, and you tried to stick on a new nose on. Hmph,” she said, with a shrug of her shoulders. It’s a characteristic gesture. Her whole attitude seems to declare, “Noses snap off; marriages bust up; life goes on.” It’s a forwardlooking outlook that almost certainly accounts for Eckhardt’s youthfulnessand probably also for her interest in politics, which she defines as just “hanging out” with people. Talking over cold drinks at her dining table, I began to think of her political ambition as a desire to satisfy her natural curiosity, her liaisons with prominent artists and politicians as a way of engaging the world. In April of 1950, when Nadine Cannon married Billy Lee Brammer, she may have been a green 19-year-old from dusty McAllen, but she was also one of those strangely visionary young people whose instincts surpass their experience. Though she’d never met a famous novelist, she knew that with her help Brammer would become one. During the early years of their marriage, years filled with high times and low bank balances, the stylish couple became Austin’s F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. On staff at The Texas Observer, Billy Lee began reporting events \(like the filming of he’d eventually fictionalize and weave into The Gay Place. The crystallizing moment of their young lives came in early 1955: “The Senator;’ as the Brammers came to call LBJ, had a fondness for hiring couples. First he put them on the payroll and then on a Brown & Root plane headed for Washington. In a move straight out of Stendhal, these two provincial youths were thrust into the nation’s power circles, receiving an incomparable education that would determine the divergent courses of their later lives. Billy Lee’s fate is notorious: After spending time as one of Lyndon’s “hard-peckered boys,” he transformed “The Senator” into fiction, creating a portrait of LBJ in The Gay Place that would prove the simultaneous debut and climax of his writing career. For Nadine, however, her apprenticeship with the Johnsons was only the beginning. LBJ’s most obvious motive for hiring young couples was to leverage control over his staffhis boys could work late nights without their wives complaining. But Johnson also arguably viewed “the couple” as the basic unit of political success, due to his long partnership with the tireless Lady Bird. The opportunity to observe Lady Bird was formative for Nadine. From her example the future Mrs. Bob Eckhardt learned that “effective political wives are much like first-rate executives.” Watching from the proximity of the Johnsons’ secretarial pool, Nadine noticed that “like her husband, Lady Bird worked constantly … she desired power just as much as he did. Theirs was a creative relationship that served to accomplish their goals for money and political power.” JANUARY 9, 2009 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 31